Where is the Future of a Real Estate Agent?

What the future of an agent looks like is a topic for another article. The question we are addressing in this article is where.

I am not referring to which brokerage firm that an agent is affiliated with. We know from NAR surveys that which brokerage firm an agent is affiliated with has almost no impact on success. While it may have a significant impact on how much of their commission they keep, it has almost no impact on getting listings or obtaining clients. Consumers think individual agents, not brokerage firms. This is a critical distinction for an agent to make.

Where an agent does their work on a daily basis is the focus of this article.

Let’s take a look at Steve. Steve is a relatively new agent. Steve is excited about being his own boss and wants to be successful like some of the more experienced agents that he has heard about.

Steve has joined a national firm that has an office in his area. Steve is a bit more informed that most agents. He did his homework. He knows that this national firm will not, in and of itself, help him do more transactions. He has agreed to give his broker 30% of his commission on an ongoing basis so he can be around successful top producers and learn from them. Steve wants the vibe. He wants to feed off their energy.

Steve gets in the office early and sits at his cubicle in the bullpen. Steve is ready to go. Steve is not sure exactly what to do but he is jazzed to watch and learn from John Smith and Jackie Jones, the top producers in the firm. Steve smiles at the agent in cubicle next to him, Mark, who is wearing headphones and is enthralled with something on his laptop.

Steve stands up as he notices John Smith, alpha male, blast through the office, cell phone to his ear, making a beeline to a private office slamming the door behind him. Mark lifts his headphones off his ear momentarily.

Mark: “John did 45 million in sales last year. I think the market is slowing down though, what do you think?”

Steve: “Uh.. not sure. I guess not for him”.

Steve listens to phones calls emanating from other cubicles; setting up a car to be serviced, the game last night, the election, “the market” slowing down. Steve sighs as he peeks above his cubicle to see an animated John Smith continuing his phone call and having a great time in the process.

Jackie Jones zips around the corner. Steve has a plan and approaches her without hesitation.

Steve: “Hey you must be Jackie, my name is Steve, I am new in the office, and I wanted to personally congratulate you on your success. I wanted to ask you what has made you so successful?”

Jackie: “Thanks, nice to meet you Steve. Well… uh.. I guess I prospected a lot in the beginning, worked hard, networked a lot.”

Jackie’s cell phone rings. She motions to Steve to wait.

Jackie: “Hi Blake, right, sure. I’ll bring the market evaluation tonight of course” Jackie turns back to Steve, forcing a smile. “I have to take this, nice meeting you” Jackie continues to her private office.

That was Steve’s education. It took about 30 seconds. Steve returns to his cubicle. Mark lifts up his headphones.

Mark: “So…?”

Steve: “She said she prospected a lot and worked hard.”

Mark: “Amazing insight”.

Steve stares at his phone, and then opens his laptop.

Steve: “Time to start making calls.”  Mark puts his headphones back on.

Fast forward two hours. Steve hangs up, sighs, and starts searching the web on his laptop.

Steve: ”I think I am going to do one of those weekend workshops. Mark, who is better, Ferry, Proctor or Buffini or that other guy?”  No answer. Steve pears around the cubicle and then notices Mark is in the kitchen yucking it up with some other agents.

The reality is that Jackie Jones’s and John Smith’s of the world do not sit in the middle of a bullpen and make their 50 morning calls so guys like Steve can catch their vibe and learn from them. They know what they are doing, they are busy doing deals or planning their next tropical vacation.

The story of Steve can be told thousands of times across the country. When you consider the inner workings of a typical national brand real estate office, approximately 75% licensees do not come into the office very often and do not sell very much. Most of them leave the business within their first year. Another 15% do come into the office, want to learn the business and look forward to feeding off the vibe of top producers but often end up somewhat dismayed. 10% (or less) are top producers and keep to themselves and do not usually attend your typical Wednesday “sales” meeting to listen to the new termite guy or title rep. In addition, most top producers don’t eat donuts. We are also seeing a trend of top producers and their teams renting space independent of the large real estate offices. They don’t want the distraction.

As counter intuitive as it may seem, large real estate offices are not usually great places to learn how to sell a lot of real estate so ambitious new agents often seek knowledge and inspiration outside the building. That is why trainers like Mike Ferry, Brian Buffini, Craig Proctor and others are so successful and have lots of paying customers.

What is also true is that the typical economics of a large real estate office revolve around broker commission splits. Why? The splits pay for most of the office expenses. Do clients come to these nice offices? Not anymore.

These revelations might prompt us to consider that the best real estate environments may not be a “real estate” environments at all.

I was at a Wework office in West LA recently (https://www.wework.com/). They had about 500 tenants on several floors. What an incredible energetic vibe it was. Startups, entertainment people, creators, go-getters abound. I asked the representative how many of the tenants are real estate agents and she did not know if any of them were. Let’s say there were actually 10. That leaves 490 potential centers of influence for you. How many potential prospects or centers of influence do you meet in your typical large real estate office or “market center”? Zero.

I recommend that an agent consider driving a bit further just to be in one of these environments. These are places to generate business and have fun doing it all the while keeping the vast majority of your commission on the THRIVE 100% platform.

Do you desire deal-making training? THRIVE is a training centric next generation brokerage with Thrive University (online) and new trainings rolling out periodically (our next training due out towards the end of the summer looks at what you are actually selling and it is not real estate). Do you desire even more or different training? Get your fix with one of the trainers mentioned in this article or others. You have the money to pay for it. It is easy to gain knowledge in our industry but you have to know where to look for it.

You and you alone determine your success. Another company’s slogan used to be Think Different. We agree. Or maybe it is think different and thrive.


scott farrell

scott farrell

Scott Farrell has had experience as a commercial real estate developer and as a broker has had tenures with RE/MAX and Keller Williams prior to founding Thrive Homes and Estates, a luxury residential brokerage boutique in Southern California. Thrive has recently launched its own listings search application for consumers.
scott farrell

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